Andrew Flintoff's retirement from Test cricket yesterday brought closer the age of the mercenary player. England's great warrior will withdraw from the purest form of the game out of bodily necessity but he intends to pursue a lucrative living in one-day cricket. He will be far from alone.
The Indian Premier League has demonstrated that for the game's legends, after achieving fame in the Test arena, there is abundant life in the IPL – and soon it may not be alone. The Australians have announced advanced plans for a Twenty20 competition and there is also an intention to create an English Premier League.
It is possible to envisage a not too distant future where Flintoff and like-minded legends travel the world playing upmarket exhibition cricket. At least twice the money for barely half the effort, as somebody put it yesterday. In this season's IPL alone the leading run scorer was the retired Test player and Independent columnist Matthew Hayden, while only one bowler took more wickets than the veteran Anil Kumble.
Flintoff, who has a year of his contract with Chennai Super Kings to run, will now join them. The catch is that they will all have been obliged to have substantial Test careers first but the get-out clause is that they are likely to curtail those careers much earlier. Pulling out at 31, as Flintoff has done, may become the norm. Who wants to go through the rigours and angst of five days when you can fill your boots and pockets in three hours?